Bobby Wagner isn’t a big fan of Thanksgiving.
It isn’t that the All-Pro Seahawks linebacker is trying to be whatever you’d call the Thanksgiving equivalent of the Grinch, it’s just that he thinks that “every day you should be thankful. There shouldn’t be just one day that you take out of the year and be thankful.”
That and the fact that Wagner isn’t a huge fan of the traditional Thanksgiving food.
But even if this isn’t Wagner’s favorite holiday, Wagner was more than happy to make a difference in a whole lot of people’s lives this week, buying groceries for unsuspecting shoppers at a West Seattle Safeway on Tuesday.
Wagner ended up picking up the tab for half an hour’s worth of shoppers on Tuesday, but that wasn’t even the initial good cause he at that store to support.
Earlier this year, Wagner visited nine of the Low Income Housing Institute’s tiny house villages to deliver supplies as part of his “Bwagz Sees You” outreach initiative. Wagner has also supported the Low Income Housing Institute financially by paying for the construction of new tiny houses. On Tuesday, Wagner was at Safeway to pack up Thanksgiving meals that would be delivered to the residents of those homes. While he was there, however, Wagner noticed people shopping and thought it’d be nice to surprise them by picking up the bill.
“When we were waiting, I saw everyone Thanksgiving shopping and I thought it would be cool if when they went to the cash register they didn’t have to pay,” he said. “So, I secretly tried to say that I was paying for their meals.”
Thanks to social media posts, particularly from students at nearby West Seattle High School, word got out quickly. Wagner, who prefers to keep his philanthropy low key, tried to sneak out before he became the story, but word still got out, leading to Wagner answering questions about it in his Wednesday press conference.
“I got out before the cameras got in there though,” he said. “That was the thing though, I went there to just bag some food for the tiny homes that I’ve been a part of and it kind of turned into something else.”
While this particular instance of Wagner making a difference in the community became public, first on social media and then when it came up with the media on Wednesday, he generally prefers to fly under the radar when it comes to his off-field work.
“It’s more my team who says I need to talk about it more,” he said. “But when I do it, it’s genuine. It’s from the heart. I don’t really care if people see that I do it or notice that I do it or even recognize that it’s me doing it. I just do it because I feel like there’s a lot of people out there that need a hand, and I try to lend a hand. I don’t really want acknowledgement or want people to pat me on the back or whatever. I just want to help the people I feel like I can help and if there’s an opportunity where I feel like I can help, I do it. Nine times out of 10, it’s pretty quiet, that’s just how it is, I want it to be genuine, I want them to know that I’m not doing it for attention.”
Wagner’s desire to make a difference doesn’t stem from any particular moment in his life, but rather just from seeing people in need and realizing that he was in a position to make a difference.
“It was just a little bit of everything,” he said. “When you grew up and seen maybe some of your classmates that maybe didn’t have food, or depended on that meal that they got, that kind of spiraled everything to it. I went to a school and found out that kids who didn’t pay off their food debt, it followed them until they paid it off, and I thought, ‘I’m pretty sure that debt can grow pretty crazy.’ It’s just little things. When you go and walk the street and you see a mother with her kids sitting on the side of the road because they don’t have a home you just sit and think, ‘What if that was me? What if that was my family, my sister, or whatever?’ I think it’s those experiences, you just walk in living life, and being grateful for the position that you’re in, and try to help people when you can.”
As a part of the 'BWagz Sees You Thanksgiving Edition' initiative, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner teamed up with Safeway to help tackle local hunger. Bobby stopped by a West Seattle Safeway to prep and prepare Thanksgiving meals for families living at the Tiny House Communities (LIHI) in Seattle.